Dozens of Fulton County veterans have received a new military ID card from the Recorder’s Office as the department has begun issuing them.
The Recorder’s office has been authorized by the Fulton Board of County Commissioners to issue the cards, following legislation approved in Columbus, Recorder Sandra Barber said. The law became effective in September 2016 after a lobbying effort by several county recorders and the state Veterans Commission, she said.
To herald the event, the county’s Administrative building has been decorated with posters thanking veterans for their service. A welcome desk has been festooned with red, white and blue bunting.
Veterans in the county can call for an appointment to receive their cards at no cost. The Recorder’s office is covering the $2 cost, Barber said. The Recorder is working with Crystal Bennett, the county’s Veteran Service Director on the program.
“Crystal, out at the Veteran’s office, did not quite have the room to do it,” Barber said. “I assumed the responsibility and then she has been working with me and helping me with military questions.”
The Recorder issued 33 cards March 1, the first day of the program, Barber said.
“The phone never stops ringing,” Barber said.
Meeting with the veterans that come in has been a great experience for her. The veterans are processed in the basement office of the Recorder. They fill out their paperwork, have their photos taken and are offered coffee, water and cookies.
The staff is enjoying meeting and listening to the veterans, Barber said. She has observed veterans from different areas and who served in different wars or conflicts talking and sharing stories.
“We thank them for their service and they in turn thank us for the cards,” Barber said. “We are happy to do that for them.
“We had a couple of veterans with tears in their eyes.”
Cards are issued by appointment after Barber heard from other offices who advertised the cards, but did not require appointments. The results were chaotic to say the least, Barber said. So the Fulton office decided to take three days with appointments and hoped to get the bulk of the veterans, she said.
“From then on they can come in anytime between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday,” Barber said.
According the Veterans Service Office, there are around 2,800 veterans in the county.
The program is open to any honorably discharged veteran. They need to bring in their DD-214, and two pieces of identification (Photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport. Other pieces could be a birth certificate or Social Security card.)
One of the staff helping out was Sandy Cunningham and she said she went home the first night, feeling “pretty grateful,” after meeting and talking with the veterans.
Another staff member, Supervisor Kevin Bidwell, has enjoyed the time. A veteran himself, he said he has been sharing stories with the others as they come through.
“One of the stories comes a from veteran who lives next to a crematory and everytime they run it, and he smells the burning flesh it just tears him up,” Bidwell said. “It’s all he can do.”
James Pruitt may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org